“1912” By James Chace Brings Larger Than Life Characters Back To Life

Over the past week I have found, as I always do, comfort from reading a good book.  For me, a good read often means, a book about history.  I slipped backwards in time to the election of 1912 and picked up the James Chace finely written, and easy page turner “1912”.  James Chace, was a history professor at Bard College.

The major players in the book are well-known, and though Chace does not break new ground in the background of this story, the ways he weaves his tale and amplifies the character’s back-story into the presidential election makes this a grand read.

A relaxing read.

There is just no way not to love Teddy Roosevelt who jumps out of the pages as a candidate and leader that begs to heard.  His stands are bold for the time, and in hind-sight, we know them to be correct ones.  His strong desire to ramp up regulation of big businesses, and his belief that the country needed an income tax shows he was a far-sighted Republican.   After TR left the presidency in 1908, Taft became the next leader of the nation.  TR prepared Taft to be his successor, hoping and expecting that Taft would carry on the progressive ideals and agenda from the TR years.  

Taft was not well suited for the White House, and truly did not like the job.  He became more and more conservative and finally ‘forced’ TR to make a bid for the White on another ticket in 1912.  The divisions within the Republican Party are on display to see, and also to better understand in historical terms from this book.  

In the end Woodrow Wilson will win the White House.   Wilson’s  self-righteous religious tones never settles with me, in this book or elsewhere.

But before the end plays out in “1912” Chace provides lively and insightful tidbits into the political motives of Eugene Debs who ran a spell-binding race on the Socialist ticket.  Debs wanted one thing more than any other.  Plainly put he wanted a more idealistic society in which means of production were owned and controlled by the workers. There is a wonderful short history of the labor movement and socialist movement at the turn of the 20th century.

Another grand tale that Chace tells in several pages involves the much larger and incredible one that J. Anthony Lukas provides in “Big Trouble”.    (I loved that book, and may end up reading it again for the pleasure of it.)   That story involves the 1905 assassination of Frank Steunenberg, an ex-governor of Idaho.  The murder was rumored to be the work of vengeful labor bosses, and Pinkerton detective James McParland tracked Wobbly organizer Big Bill Haywood all the way to Colorado to bring him back to stand trial, where he and two other men were defended by a team of lawyers that included Clarence Darrow.  Just an amazing story.

Haywood will play a role in “1912”.

If you need a reason to pull yourself into a chair and relax this weekend you could not do better with a history book than this one by James Chace

Will Wisconsin Recall Elections Be Held On One Day?

Many have wondered, with the high number of recall elections being waged in Wisconsin as a result of the assault on state and public workers by Governor Walker and his Republican allies, how the  recall elections would be conducted.   As of this writing there are eight state senators with recall signatures gathered against them.  That is more than just a historical record!  That is real grassroots anger!   

There is no doubt that the Government Accountability Board is literally swamped in paperwork.  As such they are correctly asking for more money to run the operation, and also will request time extensions to complete their work.  In addition, it is reported the GAB will try to have as many of the recall elections take place on a single day.

The board has 31 days to review the petitions after they’re filed. But it plans to go to court next week to request an extension to allow for more time to handle the counts and attempt to synchronize the recalls so as many elections as possible can occur on the same day.

The political minds can stew over the pros and cons of such a one-day event, but the GAB can not be faulted with trying to make the train run on time given all that has been handed to them.  I can not even begin to imagine the nightmare in front of them as they sift over the names line by line by…..

To top it off there might be another name added to the pile for recall.

The Wisconsin State Legislature needs to honor the budgetary request from GAB, and do so in quick fashion.  This is not a time to hem and haw when the citizens on both sides of the aisle have spoken and want to force recall elections.

Baby Eaglets Get Identification Bands

There was a lot of action on the eagle cam yesterday.  (Link located on right-hand side of this blog.)  This is the cam that I followed last season, and picked up again during the renovation of the existing nest this past winter.  The running commentary makes the site second to none.

The three bald eaglets nesting at Norfolk Botanical Garden received identification bands. 

Wisconsin Voters Do Not Agree With Reason Why Gov. Walker Attacked Public Workers

Everyone knew it in February.  

Everyone knows it today.

It can come as no shock to anyone in Wisconsin that the raw political power grab by Governor Walker against collective bargaining was not about actually balancing the budget.  No one ever really thought the rationale for the action had anything to do with helping to balance the budget in Wisconsin.  The numbers never added up, and the more Walker and Company tried to explain the reasoning for attacking public workers the deeper they got stuck in the mud. 

What the attack on state and public employees are really all about is nothing more than a naked partisan move by the Republicans to trim the sails of the unions, undermine the Democratic Party, and play to the red-meat conservative base.

How is all that going, Scott?

We all know that it blew up in the face of Gov. Walker who is now going to need luck to stay in office after a recall move which  will be made early next year.  The numbers do not look good.  The poll results also show that  a majority of survey respondents support collective bargaining!

There is now a statewide poll released by Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College that underscores the mood and mindset of the voters who have been watching Walker and Company operate.

Plainly put the voters are not buying what Walker is trying to sell.

A new poll finds skepticism around Gov. Scott Walker’s stated reason for trying to remove collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Walker has said the law will help balance the state budget and help local governments absorb deep cuts in state aid.

Wisconsin Public Radio released its poll results Friday. It finds that 57 percent of respondents think the issue was more about decreasing the power of public-sector unions, while 31 percent say it’s about decreasing the budget deficit.

Obama: “You Don’t Get That Every Day”

Great story.

–Singing demonstrators, interrupting Obama remarks at a fundraiser in S.F. to protest treatment of suspected WikiLeaker Bradley Manning: “[W]here’s our change? We’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true / Look at the Republicans – what else can we do?”

–Carney, on POTUS’ reaction: “He was talking about it when he came out. … He said, ‘You don’t get that every day’ … And he thought it was kind of funny. … It certainly perked up the morning.”